Shout Outs


Kudos to Mark Thiessen, Amanda Culbertson, and Andrew Gendi, who received a verdict of Not Guilty on a DWI charge after the officer failed to ask the client if they had anything in their mouth (gum/bite guard for migraines), which invalidated the intoxilyzer test. Congratulations to all!

Amazing work to T.W. Davidson who gave his client her life back. The 55 year old Defendant with a first degree felony charge and $243,000+ due was facing life in prison. Ultimately, the court ruled that his client was in a situation where, through no fault or action of her own, it was “legally and factually impossible” for her to pay the outstanding restitution. With tears of joy flowing, the client and counsel hugged in victory. The case was DISMISSED.

Ervette Sims received a NOT GUILTY on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Denton County recently. This was a self-defense case full of missing evidence that just so happened to be favorable to the Accused – her 911 call for instance. The jurors were educated, some wore masks, and some stayed around after the NG verdict to hug the newly-acquitted Accused. Outstanding job, Ervette!

Shout-Out to Paul Morgan for passionately defending his client, who was only 17 years old at the time of the alleged offense. Paul suffered personal attacks from the State’s counsel, but ended up with a Capital Murder Reversal! Way to go, Paul!

In September, Westerners International awarded Chuck Lanehart the Coke Wood award for best published article of 2020, “Custer, Captive Girls and the Cheyenne on Sweetwater Creek,” originally published by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. The story is also a part of Chuck’s book, Tragedy and Triumph on the Texas Plains, published in May 2021 by the History Press and available at booksellers everywhere. Congratulations, Chuck!

Staff Highlights: TCDLA’s Accountant

Cris Abascal

Title: Accountant
Native State: Texas
Zodiac Sign: Gemini
Favorite Color: Turquoise
Loves to: Spend time with her grandson
Interesting Fact: She has a plate and 12 screws in her ankle from an accident when she was young.  

Cristina Abascal has been with TCDLA for thirteen years. She has twelve years of nonprofit experience in accounting and auditing. Her hard work, dedication, efficiency and ability to adapt to change are her greatest strengths. When she is not at work she is enjoying spending time with her first and only grandson Elijah.

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Shout Outs

Shout out to Michael A. Warner of Amarillo for his recent not guilty verdict in the 47th District Court in Potter County. D, charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child, was the stepfather of the 8-year-old alleged victim—who testified that D had taken “sticks” and put them in her bottom “twice a year for various years.” English was the 3rd-grade victim’s second language. Counsel asked the little girl to spell “various,” and she was not able (“various” appearing in the counselor’s notes numerous times). Michael’s defense was that victim’s mother and D were both here illegally, and mother was attempting to get a visa by being the parent of a sexual crime victim. Mother got a free immigration attorney, divorce attorney, $3,000 in crime victim’s compensation from the State, money to move to Washington state to be near girl’s daddy, utilities paid for in Amarillo, and a housing subsidy in Washington. Mother also got most of the property in the divorce. Jury, out just 2½ hours, believed it was a made-up story for financial gain by mother and an attempt to stay in the country instead of being deported. Congratulations on a big win, Michael.

Kudos to Waxahachie warrior Mark Griffith for his win in an 8-day trial—where the State put on evidence for 7½ days. Mark says, “Our defense took three witnesses and about 2 hours.” The charge was indecency with a child. On cross the child admitted to lying to the jury on 21 occasions under oath. Further, during questioning of the child witnesses, Mark asked her why she changed her testimony from one day to the next, and she pointed at the prosecutor and said, “She told me I needed to change my story.”
 Mark adds, “At the end of all evidence the Judge would not let me do a full offer of proof on witness tampering on the part of the prosecutor.” But he’s ordered a transcript and a grievance against both prosecutor and the Judge—for not filing a grievance against the prosecutor for tampering with a witness. After the charge was read to the jury and they left the courtroom, the Judge told Mark he’d let him know when they wanted to go to lunch, but Mark said wait, they wouldn’t go to lunch: A not-guilty verdict would come within 25 minutes. It took 21 minutes. Mark credits co-counsel Sarah Duncan and Makenzie Keene, in intern going into her third year at Tech Law, as invaluable in instant research and for showing the wisdom and compassion of true warriors. And he adds: “Always trust a jury. They see straight through the BS if you point it out to them.“

A tip of the hat to Denton’s Bruce Isaacks and Camila Francino for their recent wins. D was charged with a second-degree felony possession of a controlled substance, enhanced to a first-degree felony punishment. Arresting officer found a ziplock bag inside a bag in the backseat of D’s car and a smaller ziplock bag inside a camouflage bag in the front seat. The DPS lab didn’t test substance in the small bag, only what was in the big one in the back. The bag contained no identifying information, and testimony showed there were other people in the back seat earlier that day. The jury returned the big NG.
 The next week the pair went to trial on an assault family violence case, arguing defense of property. Once again, the jury returned a quick not guilty verdict. Congratulations, Bruce and Camila, on a nice week’s worth of work.

Shout out to TCDLA Past President Sam Bassett and TCDLA Associate Board Member Rick Flores for their recent win in a criminally negligent homicide trial in Travis County. D confronted another man on the street who had inappropriately touched his wife and another woman inside a bar. D pushed the man, who tripped and fell, fractured his skull, and died. The State focused its case on causation—while Sam and Rick argued that D could not have been aware that there was a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death would result from the shove. The jury agreed and ruled not guilty. Good work, guys, for a big win.

Kudos to E. X. Martin of Dallas for his recent win in a Breach Of Computer Security jury trial. He notes that the state offered a misdemeanor plea deal, which they turned down. The jury took only 15 minutes to agree, so apparently it was the right move.

Past president Gerry Goldstein sent along this shout out: “We all know of the countless spectacular and incredible courtroom victories of our able Brothers, Dick DeGuerin and Mark Stevens. What I’d like to recognize and we too often do not adequately praise are those cases that require remarkable sacrifice, courage, and stamina of our Brothers and Sisters who spend literally months in federal court standing up against impossible odds. Mark and Dick deserve our respect and kudos for their remarkable efforts in the Bandidos’ trial that ended here in San Antonio yesterday. At every moment and every turn they embodied the best tradition of our profession!”


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April 2012 SDR – Voice for the Defense Vol. 41, No. 3

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